Buying an Older Home? What Plumbing Issues Do You Have in Store?

Posted on: 8 November 2016

There's no denying that an older home has a certain amount of charm. Many people choose such a house of character with the aim of maintaining its appeal while bringing it up to modern standards in terms of repair. It is unfortunate that older homes often come with a considerable number of issues related to the plumbing. What are the challenges you need to be looking out for and what should you do?

Working with What You've Got

If you've bought an older home that has not enjoyed any significant renovation, then you need to understand that the plumbing system will be very different to a modern-day design. If you want to have all the trappings of designer living, then you are going to have to introduce a certain number of elements to your basic system in order to do so. For example, it's likely there will be an inadequate number of toilets per the number of bedrooms, compared to today's standards.

However, you still have to work with the basic plumbing system, so what are the main issues you need to look out for in relation to older installations?

Corrosion and Clogging

Homes that were built more than 50 years ago will likely still have galvanised pipes. It's quite possible the previous owners have replaced some of the piping where they have run into problems. However, if much of the system remains it is likely to be partially corroded and clogged. If you notice that the water pressure is low when you turn on the water, especially the hot tap, this could well be a sign of rusted galvanised pipes. Hot water pipes will typically be the first ones to rust.

Outside Issues

You need to pay particular attention to the sewer line as well. Don't just focus on issues within your home's four walls. Your plumbing responsibility actually begins at the property line. Older sewer lines could be impacted by tree roots. Also, these older lines could be made from clay, cast iron or even modified tar paper. None of these materials are ideal. The clay pipes are very susceptible to tree roots, cast iron pipes can easily corrode and the "tar paper" pipes are not only relatively brittle, they can also contain asbestos.

Retro Efficiency

Finally, while older plumbing fixtures in the home may look "retro" or appealing, it's unlikely that they function very well after all of this time. It is possible to buy new plumbing fixtures that have that "older" look and these will be more efficient and help to save water.

When renovating an older home, it is advisable to consult a professional plumber to help you with some of these issues.